“The characters’ sexual orientation isn’t as important as what they are feeling on the inside and what they are going through emotionally,” says Carter Covington, the executive producer of Faking It, MTV’s new high school comedy about two girls who suddenly become popular when they pretend to be lesbians. The concept of the show, on paper, sounds downright offensive—something Covington admits to when he first heard of the project.
“As a gay man, I told the network I was offended by that idea,” he told BuzzFeed. However, after rethinking the concept, Covington found himself with a series that explores a post-gay world set in a high school where sexuality doesn’t matter. Sure, pretending to be lesbians serves as the catalyst of MTV’s new program, which premieres April 22, but it’s not where the core emotion and plot lines come from.
In fact, it's a far cry from the landscape that existed five years ago when Covington served as executive producer of ABC Family’s TV adaptation of 10 Things I Hate About You.
“There was always an anxiety before around gay characters,” says Covington. “Whenever we talked about their storylines and their plot lines, we had to make sure we saw them as what a straight viewer was going to see. There was a lot of discussion about that.”
In the five years since that show premiered, however, TV has changed. Thanks to Glee, Modern Family, Scandal, and even MTV’s other series, Awkward, queer characters are very much equal to their straight counterparts. But the political landscape has also changed, with gay rights and marriage equality being championed across the country. Now, Covington and his team of writers—which includes George Northy, the writer behind the indie high school comedy, G.B.F.—no longer are having that conversation.
“I don’t have to push that gay characters are just like everyone else,” says Covington, with a sense of freedom. “That’s so creatively exciting for me.”
With MTV, he gets to explore the universal problems of not being gay but being in high school. Ultimately, everyone is hiding who he or she is. On the show, Karma (Katie Stevens) is hiding her love for Liam (Gregg Sulkin), Amy (Rita Volk) is hiding the truth from herself and her family, and Lauren (Bailey Buntain) is hiding from her own fears of not being popular.
“We throw around the term ‘post-gay’ all the time and who knows when we’ll ever actually hit that,” Covington says. “But my hope is we get a step closer with Faking It.”